Steers football family extends beyond the field
Supporters of the Graham Steers football team know family is a word which gets used a lot when describing the group. It is the word the team breaks down with after every practice and game. It is the first word several players use when describing the team and their experience on it. That family also extends outside of the players and coaching staff.
Every Thursday morning, members of the team gather at United Supermarkets for breakfast. This breakfast is different. It is not a scheduled team meeting. Players are not required to attend. However, they do. Not just a player or two, at times there have been one-third of the team in attendance.Steers fan Mike Morrison organizes the breakfasts. Two years ago, he was joined by Buddy Jennings, who was in the process of moving to Graham from Fort Worth. Morrison played football in high school and earned a scholarship at Southern Methodist University. “I was a redshirt in my first year at SMU and wasn’t happy about it,” he said. A college will “redshirt” a player who does not play in their first season to extend athletic eligibility. “I was angry, and I felt lied to. I transferred so I could play,” he said.
Morrison said looking back he wished he had a father figure to keep him at SMU. This is among several reasons why Morrison hosts these breakfasts. “Unfortunately not every kid has that kind of presence in their lives,” he said. “Even the kids that do, they hear these messages from their fathers and their coaches, I want to be their friend. Someone else they can talk to.”
Each breakfast has a different theme. One week, Morrison discussed appreciation and challenged the team to show appreciation for the marching band. He recalled hearing the band in his playing days. “Those games were rocking,” he said. “Graham has an amazing band, and those kids put in just as much work as the team. They’re out there playing (hard), and they get the students going. That gets the crowd going, and I know from experience what that can do for a team.”
In the first year of helping Morrison, Jennings traveled from Fort Worth to give devotionals. “I drove to Fort Worth every Thursday morning, gave ‘the word’ and drove back to Fort Worth and worked downtown,” he said. That might sound crazy, but it is not to Jennings. “I love this town, I love (these guys),” he said. “I’ve bought in to what they’re doing here.” Jennings assisted with the opening of HighRidge Church and initially did not plan on moving to Graham. “We fell in love with it out here and decided to (move),” he said.
The word “love” was used a lot when Jennings spoke, and it was used a lot by Morrison as well. Each player that comes to breakfast is greeted with a handshake or a hug and a simple message. “I love each of these guys as if they were my own,” Morrison said. “I want every one of them to know that.”
For the rest of the story, see the Saturday, Sept. 21 edition of The Graham Leader.